By Daniel Correia
Students who passed on purchasing a $395 remote parking permit for the academic year have thrown themselves into the dreaded game of musical chairs for residential street parking. With UC Santa Cruz parking at an all-time high, students have found the residential blocks of downtown and Westside Santa Cruz as an alternate parking solution.
UCSC student Michelle Jenkins, 20, has found a way to get around paying for parking and commutes to school from the Eastside.
"I still have a parking permit from where I used to live," said Jenkins, "and I just park over there and take the bus. My permit expires in a month and if I’m still living where I’m living I’ll probably ask to use a friend’s driveway or something."
To curb the problem of transient parking in the downtown, beach, and Westside areas, the city responded in 2004 with a proposed parking permit program, which entails a two-hour parking restriction to non-residents, allotting a limited number of parking permits to residents, and allowing very few commuter permits to those that work in adjacent downtown and Mission Street areas.
Matt Farrell, the Parking Programs Manager for the City of Santa Cruz, sees improvement in the parking problem.
"We did downtown all at once; the Eastside and the beach are pretty stable," Farrell said. "So we haven’t had too many problems."
Substitute solutions for parking on residential streets are a direct result of rising UCSC parking prices. For the 2006-2007 school year, UCSC parking prices have increased yet again. Metered parking is being raised to $1.50 an hour, $660 for an A and B permit, and $395 for a remote lot permit.
According to Wes Scott, co-director of UCSC’s Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS), the increased prices are in accordance with the UC Parking Principles.
"The short answer," says Scott, "is that all costs associated with providing and managing the on-campus parking program must be recovered through parking fees and costs to provide these services have increased and therefore it’s necessary to increase parking fees."
The money paid by parkers to the UC also goes into funding alternative transportation programs like vanpool, the bike shuttle, campus shuttles, and many other programs.
"The good news," says Scott, "is that because of all of our successful alternative transportation programs, approximately 60 percent of all trips made to our campus are made in an alternative to a single occupant vehicle."
"With UC parking reaching record levels, students will be hard-pressed to find available parking and avoid a $40 ticket for parking longer than 2 hours on off-campus streets.
Santa Cruz residents have the option to enter their block into a permit parking program which can be requested through city officials. Miramar and Western Court have been added to this year’s list of streets included in a permit program.
"We only added two streets this year," said Farrell, "There hasn’t been many complaints so far, but school hasn’t really started yet."